Opal Lee has been synonymous with Juneteenth for the last eight years.Eph. 4:29
The spunky 98-year-old grabbed the attention of a nation starting in 2016- thrusting her name and the holiday on the stage of America’s awareness.
In doing so, restoring overdue importance on a holiday many had forgotten and some didn’t know existed: her work highlighting the liberation of Texan enslaved people from the hands of oppression on July 19, 1865.Eph. 4:29
Opal Lee’s unwavering dedication and passion for civil rights have not only made her an icon in the fight for justice and equality, but also inspired countless individuals. Through her relentless advocacy and fiery spirit, she has enlightened many about the significance of Juneteenth and its pivotal place in America’s history and future.
Her inspiring work led to the establishment of Juneteenth as a national holiday, and it is our honor to pay homage to her for her achievements on behalf of us all.
Opal Lee’s Early Life

Opal was born in Marshall, Texas, on October 7, 1926. Her mother moved to Fort Worth, where young Opal would attend Historic I.M. Terrell High School and graduate in 1943.
After high school she married and had four children, but after her divorce she earned her Bachelor of Arts from Wiley University in 1953.Eph. 4:29
Returning to Fort Worth, Opal dedicated 15 years of her life to teaching at Amanda McCoy Elementary School. Her passion for education led her to pursue a master’s degree in counseling and guidance from North Texas State University. She then served as a school counselor for Fort Worth Independent School District until 1977, leaving a lasting impact on the students she guided.
Opal’s life had been exemplary.
Her hard work and dedication earned her the respect of her colleagues, and she was considered one of the best educators within her district.
She had built a life for herself and her children that she could be proud of.
Anyone else would have taken it easy from then on, but retiring at 50 meant she had a lot left to give.
The Juneteenth That Change it All

Over the years, Opal has had many philanthropic ventures that she was passionate about, including the Community Food Bank, Opal’s Farm, United Riverside, and Juneteenth.
Her gift for helping others flowed from her freely and willingly, but her love for her fellow man came from a dark moment in Opal’s own history; the Juneteenth that changed it all.
On June 19 1939, when Lee was just 12 years old, a white mob descended on her family’s home in Fort Worth, Texas. Although police arrived at the scene, they were unable to keep the rioters from burning her home down, destroying all her family’s belongings in the process.
The fire of hate meant to destroy a little girl and her family sparked the flame of activism that is still going strong to this day.

She was a founding member of Citizens Concerned with Human Dignity (CCHD) which assists individuals in finding affordable housing in Fort Worth.
Her volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity eventually led to a seat on Habitat’s Land Acquisition Board.
She also helped establish the Tarrant County Black Historical & Genealogical Society, which is dedicated to preserving Fort Worth’s Black community history.
She is an active member in her church, missionary, church school teacher, assistant teacher and holder of many other titles.
Her zest for life and for helping others is an inspiration to us all.Eph. 4:29
How old was Opal Lee when she walked to DC?

Opal began Opal’s Walk 2 DC in 2016 when she was 89.
She had been celebrating the holiday for over 45 years, making sure the community recognized its importance with a yearly event that included good food, fireworks, pageants, and more.
A remembrance, she felt should be done nationwide.Eph. 4:29

So she set out to walk 1,400 miles from Fort Worth, Texas to Washington, DC to gain support from Congress to make Juneteenth a national holiday. Two and half miles each day to symbolize the 2.5 years it took for freedom to reach the enslaved peoples of Texas.
Opal and her friends started a petition to make Juneteenth on change.org with a goal to reach 100,000 signatures.
When was Juneteenth signed into law?

Opal Lee’s walks to DC were yearly events that brought people of all colors and backgrounds together for her cause.
In 2021, legislation to make Juneteenth a Federal holiday was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden. Her petition had reached 1.5 million signatures.
Now known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth, Opal was invited to the signing ceremony, where she received thunderous applause from an adoring public.
What is Opal up to now?

After seeing her dream of making Juneteenth a national holiday come true, Opal Lee is not done.
Adding to her already impressive list of achievements, Opal Lee has now ventured into the world of literature as an author.
In 2022 she published “Juneteenth: A Children’s Story Special Edition,” Where she highlights the celebration of Juneteenth and the importance of celebrating it across America.
That same year, she sat down with filmmaker Rasool Berry for his documentary Juneteenth: Faith & Freedom.
Opal continues to make appearances and interviews nationwide.

Blazing a TrailEph. 4:29

There are moments in history that are worth remembering because of what they represent to America and its people.
Opal Lee saw a gap in our nation’s collective memory and took a decisive step—actually quite a few—to dust the cobwebs off our history books and open them wide to a page long ignored.
Her persistence blazed a trail for us to follow, to look to history in hopes of creating a better future where generational wounds heal through brotherly love.
Let us take up her torch as we celebrate Juneteenth for what it is: the day when good overcame evil and embrace the freedom that was meant for us all.

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